Coronavirus’ Effect on Newsome’s Performing Arts

Chamber students practice their songs while wearing masks and maintaining a safe distance. Singing in the auditorium rather than the chorus room allowed choir-members space to spread out.

Ella Golden


Hailey Le Roy, Entertainment Editor

Who knew it was possible to sing in masks?

   Ever since students, teachers and staff were told not to return to school after spring break, Newsome’s art programs have been severely thwarted. From then followed months without practice in students’ chosen crafts and an acute lack of socialization. Returning to Newsome for the new school year, the music and theater programs were forced to adapt, altering its curriculum to accommodate both online and in-person platforms. 

   Chorus students are normally busy with events, such as performing in Epcot’s Candlelight Processional or conducting Chorus’ annual Madrigal Dinner fundraiser; but, unfortunately, these affairs have been put on hold. 

   “Due to COVID-19, this year has been very unstable and unpredictable,“ Paris Graham, a member of Chamber and show-choir, said. ”Though we are privileged to still have it, show-choir has changed the most. Instead of dancing together we might dance alone in our own space while abiding by social distancing standards.” She is grateful for her choir directors, Ms. Stewart and Mr. Bogue, who have tried to keep as much normalcy possible, “our teachers do a great job of making us feel safe while also having fun.” Each student is required to sing masked and remain distanced from one another. 

   According to Abby Byrne, a flute-player in Newsome’s Band, there have been quite a few changes to the program. Band members were unable to practice over the summer, which is typically vital to their preparation of the marching band show. In addition, two competitions were canceled, one of which being the Florida Bandmasters Association’s MPA (Music Performance Assessment). 

   “Mr. Reed, our band director, works very hard to accommodate the social distancing guidelines from marching band rehearsals to school classes.” Byrne’s class, Symphonic Band, is held in the auditorium to allow each student space to socially distance. 

   Alas, at this time Band is unable to perform its iconic halftime show at each football game. As a result, it has become more of a pep-band, turning its primary focus to creating excitement in the stands. 

   Orchestra has an advantage over other art programs, as students are able to wear masks during rehearsals and performances. However, there are still many setbacks. All of Orchestra’s first-semester concerts have been canceled, and, as stated by senior-violinist Allison Ryan, the social distancing measures in place make it difficult to blend the different sounds. 

   “I don’t like the situation the world is in at the moment, but I’m still glad I get to keep some normality in my life with Orchestra and making music with my friends,” Ryan said. 

   On another note, Newsome’s theater program efficiently adapted to current circumstances, but its president Mia Scaringe says the process was not easy, “When we first got into quarantine, we were like, ‘how are we going to do this without everything falling apart?’” She says that she and her peers in theater leadership had to step up, “we had to say we’re going to work extra hard this year; we’re going to start filming our projects and we’re going to make this the best that it can be.” 

   Newsome Theater is currently working on its fall play “Oz,” which, according to Scaringe, is like “the story of the wizard of oz but a little bit grittier, a little bit edgier.” The performance will be recorded, but certain logistics such as whether or not the actors will perform on stage are unknown, “We’re just playing the numbers game to see how COVID progresses throughout the next few months and see what we want to do as a troupe.” 

   Theater students will soon be performing monologues based around the quarantine caused by the coronavirus, as well as writing their own monologues surrounding the same topic. These performances will be put together into a single video and presented for all of Newsome to view. 

   These accounts prove what passionate people can do in the face of adversity. In the wise words of multimedia-artist Yoko Ono, “Art is a way of survival.”